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CEN Celebrates 20 Years of Growth with Strategic Plan for the Future

In 2020, CEN celebrates connecting Connecticut’s communities and citizens for 20 years! CEN provides end-to-end, Gigabit-plus connectivity to community anchor institutions in every Connecticut community serving more than 1.8 million students, educators, researchers, state and municipal employees. Developed with the participation of members from across the community, CEN released its five-year, strategic plan in 2019. The plan offers direction and initiatives to provide increased value, ignite innovation, foster collaboration, promote advocacy, and enhance core resources.

While well established in K-12 and higher education for over a decade, connecting Connecticut’s libraries has been a major initiative for enhancing their community value and reducing the state’s digital divide, especially in rural areas. Over the past five years, CEN has connected 158 libraries representing 66 percent of all libraries statewide. Many locations help underserved communities where connectivity options have remained unchanged for decades. With the financial benefits of E-Rate and matching state bond funds, eligible libraries transition from copper-based asymmetric 25/3 Mbps service to CEN’s fiber-optic network with symmetric 1 Gbps speed and capacity for growth to 40 Gbps.

CEN’s DDoS Threat Management service provides tremendous value to the education community by ensuring smooth operations at no additional cost to member organizations. CEN’s DDoS solution mitigated 988 attacks in 2019, representing a significant increase in frequency, size and duration from prior years. The return on investment on DDoS mitigation is well over 1,000 percent since its introduction four years ago. This service is a prime example of an aggregated service delivered at scale, helping members avoid millions in direct costs if purchased individually and/or commercially.

Providing enhanced security is the primary service need for CEN members. Along with the DDoS service, CEN members of all sizes can now benefit from the CEN Firewall service. Offering enterprise class technology with a high availability, geo-diverse architecture, and a fully-managed support option, CEN’s Enterprise Firewall service helps members improve their security posture, reduce burdens on staff, and save money over time.

The CEN Engagement and Development Advisory Council launched a series of community trainings to foster collaboration and deliver additional value at no additional cost. Topics have included: Student Data Privacy (K-12), Toward Gigabit Library Tool Kit, Digital Accessibility (higher education), Ransomware Forum (K-12 and municipal), Cyber Defense Clinic (all), E-Rate Category 2 Enhancements (K-12 and library). CEN also introduced a series of Member Town Hall Meetings in various locations across the state discussing member concerns, needs, and future CEN service offerings.

The CEN Member Conference expanded into a two-day event. Alongside the traditional Member Conference experience, which included keynote speakers, parallel sessions, affinity group meetings, vendor exhibits, and the ever-valuable colleague networking, members joined in-depth technical or educational workshops at the pre-conference.

CEN will continue to be the trusted partner through which Connecticut’s digital and human networks can connect, collaborate, and share resources to realize the full potential of a robust statewide network.